Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A reminder winter still has 3 weeks left.

Calgary's weather can be a real roller coaster ride no mater what time of year but late February and early March can be the most unpredictable.  Today, after a week of nice weather, we had a nice dump of snow over night returning our fair city to a blanket of white.  Since the temperature is still somewhat mild I decided to take a walk to explore the photographic opportunities.

While I was on my way back to my car after my walk, a teacher and his students from a school near Edworthy Park passed me.  Noticing my camera he asked if I had seen anything interesting.  When you look around at the surrounding scenery it was fairly monochromatic and flat.  However I told him that if you look for the small things, the details, the hidden jems, there was lots to see and photograph.  Here are a few examples from my walk.

 Bolt and broken fence pipe.
Small red berry and leaves.
Lock on a power box.
Macro shot of the tip of a tall grass stalk.
Abstract of branches with snow.
Unbroken snow on the path.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Painting with Light

Tonight's class at SAIT is easily one of the most popular and fun of all the ones I teach.  I show my students a variety of techniques using flashlights and strobe.  Our lovely subject was Breanna who has been a subject for many of the classes for close to nine years now.  She was great to work with and we were able to try a number of different looks.  I share with you a series of the photo's from tonight's class.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Finding the little things in life.

Feb. 24  I admire those who have vivid imaginations and the passion to create wonderful photographs, films or art.  It takes a lot of dedication to one's craft to continuously make these works faced with every days distractions of life.  Watching the Oscar's tonight and viewing 1000's of photo's every day makes me realize that there are many creative people around.  While this can be inspiring it can also be humbling as I go about trying to take a photo a day.

This is why I try to keep my eye's open as I do my daily routine for the little things in life that I can work with it to my own art.  Tonight it was the remainder of a bowl of grapes that the boy's had been snacking on.  I knew how I wanted to finish the image even as I framed up the bowl with with my iPhone.  This is probably the biggest thing I have developed as I have shot a photo a day for more then 2 years.  It allows me to see simple items and create art with them.
Feb. 23  Composition is another factor that makes a photograph strong and one of the areas I feel that I have grown in with this project.  Again it was a busy day and a simple thing I do every day caught my eye as an opportunity.  Hanging my key's on the hook I saw a potential photo.  I looked at using the negative space and where I positioned the keys in the frame as I shot the photo.  Knowing I would crop it square I made sure I left room to do this.  Using snapseed I post processed the image to give it the feel I was looking for.

Friday, February 22, 2013

In camera manipulation with the iPhone.

The popularity of Apps for post processing photo's can easily be seen in the very number of options to those who use the iPhone as a creative tool.  They give users a chance to change the look and feel of an image in a variety of different ways.  While purists may say this is not photography, I say it is just another tool in our box to create our vision.

Still it is nice to experiment with other means of manipulation with out using apps.  Those of us who have been taking photographs for years remember using filters of different types to give interesting looks directly on the film.  Some of these techniques would be a challenge to create in post production using apps.

One of my favourite tricks is to shoot through different transparent medium.  I have worked with glass bricks in the past and they can give a look of ripples on water.  Today I tried something new, some Mylar that came with some glasses that the boys got with a book.  Holding it over the lens of the iPhone I watched the way the light bounced around on the screen and then snapped when I got some patterns I liked.  This one was the best, an almost kaleidoscope effect.

It is fun to continue to experiment with different techniques as it keeps photography fun and fresh. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mother nature's art.

As the weather warms up the snow melts off the roofs the water runs through the down spout on to the hedges below.  When I drove up the drive way this afternoon I saw that icicles had formed on a section close to the house.  I went inside and retrieved my Canon 7D and the 24-70mm lens.  After trying a few shots I realized I needed to get closer so I added a 36mm extension tube.

This allowed me to get in tight on the dripping icicle in an effort to freeze (pun intended) the water droplets as they came off.  With the ISO at 2000 I shot at 1/640 sec at f5.  Even at this speed there was some slight motion blur in the drops which I liked.  Timing was difficult and for the first time I actually did shoot a number of frames in secession. Here are three of my favourites where I thought the drops formed in an interesting way.

 This next image is the one I am posting for the Photo of the Day.  After doing the cropping and exposure changes in snapseed on the above image, I then began to play.  I had an idea what I was looking for and after scrolling through some of the settings in the vintage filter I settled on this one as the style as I loved the cool, blue tones that gave a more winter like feel.
 One of the off shoots from the dripping water was, of course, the icicles that formed below on the small branches.  I found them interesting as they were encased in ice.  As I looked this particular shape caught my eye so I moved in tight to it.  As I did I could see the figure of a large sea bird in the ice.  It was mother natures perfect ice sculpture.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Time to catch up again.

I fell behind once again in posting as the last 10 days have been full.  So I won't spend a lot of time with the preamble and get on with the descriptions for the photo's.

Feb. 11  Taken at my SAIT advanced lighting class.  I had an idea but the plastic leaves that I had looked to fake.  So I grabbed a jar that had one of the vines in it and then draped it over our lovely subject Brandy.
Feb. 12  Was able to take a quick drive downtown as the boy's were at their Choir practice.  Decided to go  to Scotsman Hill and photograph the skyline and Saddledome at dusk.
I then stopped out side of a music store on McLeod Trail that has a large neon guitar in front.  After taking the photo I did some post work in the app Laminar creating a layer mask and offsetting it to give some depth to the image.
Feb. 13  A last minute photo to keep my consecutive streak alive.  I used a macro tube on the 24-70mm lens and the Canon 7D.  I brought the file onto the iPhone and used the grunge filter in Snapseed for the effect.  It has proven to be one of the more liked images that I have posted on the photo sharing sites.
Feb. 14  Luke was playing with his plastic balls creating his own ball pit using the couches.  He asked me to take his photo and then wanted me to use it for the Photo of the Day.
Feb. 15   A busy evening that started with these two shots of the sunset using the Canon 7D and my 70 - 200mm lens.  The colours are natural but I did do some cropping of the photo's using Snapseed on the iPhone.
Later I went down town to attend the publication launch of Seities magazine ( www.seities.ca ).  It is the brain child of Sanja Likac (first photo), Francis A. Willey (second photo) and Kirsten White.  It is just one part of a larger plan that they are developing to celebrate traditional analogue photography.  I invite you to check out their website and learn more about their project.
As part of the launch there was some live music and I liked this washboard player and did another Hipstamtic Tintype photo on the iPhone.
Feb. 16  The lovely Suzanne graced my wedding photography class as a subject. It was a pleasant day for February and we shot both inside Heritage Hall and out in front of the building as well as in the parkade.  The first four photo's were shot on the Canon 7D and then brought on to the iPhone for additional post production.

We were fortunate to have one of the student's boyfriend, David, to join us so we were able to do a few couple shots.  I did the post on the above and immediate below image using the Laminar app.  I was very happy with the way the conversion to monochrome turned out using it.
This photo was shot using the Hipstamatic app and the tintype pak.
Feb. 17  Spinning top.  Cool got a new toy out of a Kinderegg and I wanted to experiment with motion and the iPhone.  It came out very interesting and I did do a little enhancing using snapseed.
Feb. 18   A macro Monday.  A theme of Chocolate.  I took one of the mini Hershey bars from Cool's Valentine candy and placed a chocolate chip on it.  I used the Canon 7D with a macro tube on the 24-70 and studio strobe for the lighting.
When I do multiple projects I don't want to use the same photo for both.  Since the above was part of a challenge I looked for something else.  I noticed that on the Orchid plant that had buds growing one of the blooms was starting to open.  I shoot this one as my Photo of the Day.
Feb. 19   I had a trip to the dentist to have a root canal done.  While laying there under the effect of the Nitro-us Oxide I pulled out the iPhone and shot a photo of me.  I look like a fighter pilot.
In the evening I was waiting for the boys at their weekly choir practice and was a little bored.  So as I looked around I saw a little spigot on the fire hose.  So to pass the time I took a photo from underneath it and worked on it in snapseed.
Feb. 20  Another opening and a couple more portraits of local photographers.  This is Jan Boydol at her show that is hanging at Resolution Gallery on tenth street.  This is the last show at this venue as the building is slated for demolition.   Jan's photo's are figurative in nature and wonderfully done.
The other artist showing at Resolution is Bell Peters whose work from his travels to Paris are quite exquisite.
This final shot was taken downtown in front of the Bow Building of a new piece of art work.  Many photo's have been taken by other photographers and here is my take on it.  I purposely positioned the tree in the composition as I liked the juxtaposition it gave.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A little macro work.

I choose to break out the Canon 7D with the 24-7- f2.8 to do some close up and Macro photo's tonight.  I chose this shell as the subject and shot it a few different ways.  After viewing the results I settled on these two images.

The first of the full shell was processed after being downloaded to the computer and then brought back to the iPhone where I used the app Noir to do the B&W conversion.  I added the frame using snapseed and then saved it back to my hard drive.
Using the 20mm macro tube I then moved in for this tight shot of the interior of the shell.  I liked the lines and having the shallow depth of field helps to keep the eye in the centre.  I finished up the photo by using OnOne's "perfect suite 6" to add the edging that added to the feel I was trying to achieve.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Back in the groove at SAIT.

Thirteen years ago this month I started teaching at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Continuing Education department. I taught one class that year, Wedding Photography.  It is amazing to see how far I have come since that first foray in to the field of education.

I had been doing small workshops for a few years prior, but SAIT gave me an opportunity to have a more steady position and to help grow the program.  After this first course I added classes in Basic Studio Lighting, Advanced Studio Lighting and most recently The History, Art and Culture of Photography.  With the experience I gained at SAIT I have since been able to do lectures to a diverse grop of corporations and organizations.  This past year I did a series at a number of Calgary Public Libraries and this spring will do a course for Senior Citizens at the Kerby Centre.

I had never intended to become a teacher and if you had told me prior to my attending the Alberta College of Art and Design that I would find this career I would not have believed you.  I say this because I was not a confident public speaker and fairly shy.  Yet I have grown over the years to develop these skills and thus am able to share my experiences and knowledge with others.

I find myself back into the groove of teaching after my trip to India with classes in Wedding Photography and Basic Studio Lighting now underway.  Though the classes are smaller then usual, I once again have a fine group of students.  This is one of the biggest bonuses I have in my job, the chance to meet so many fine people.  I can honestly say that over the last 13 years that I have only had a handful of people who I did not enjoy.

Those who have taken my classes know that I like to give as much hands on to the students as I can.  This generally means that I don't shoot many photo's myself.  Today though with the smaller group it allowed me to work with the lovely Tiffany and to shoot a few more images then I would with a larger class. I share one here that was shot with the Canon 7D and 24-70 f2.8 lens.
If you are interested in taking classes at SAIT go to www.sait.ca and look under the photography section of the Continuing Education tab.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Reconnecting with the local photo community.

Social networking and looking at photographs on the internet can be very rewarding and enlightening. One can connect with photographers from around the world and be inspired by many wonderful images.  However there is a disconnect as one may never meet or truly get to know those people the follow in the many different venues the web has to offer.

That is why it is so important to get out and attend local exhibits.  Not only does it give you a chance to talk and meet ones peers face to face, but it gives you a chance to view photographic prints.  It is through the finished, finely crafted final print that we can truly see what the photographer intended.  Add to that a chance to talk to the artist themselves and you can come away from an opening of a show refreshed and inspired.

In Calgary we are fortunate to have Exposure - Calgary, Banff, Canmore Photography Festival run for the entire month of February each year.  There are numerous gallery showings and presentations happening in the Bow River corridor and it allows one to truly connect to the local community (one can learn more at exposurephotofestival.com).  For me it has been a re-connect as the last few years I have not been able to attend any of the events.  This year though I have already managed to attend 7 openings and have met both familiar and new faces in the process.

As I find my way back in to an active roll in the community it is nice to see so much wonderful work and venues to view them in.  I started a min-project yesterday that I will try to do as much as I can through to the end of Exposure.  This is to take Hipstamatic Tintype photo's of photographers with one of their pieces.  Here are some images from the past few days.

February 8 
Ruberto Ostberg Gallery 2108 18th Street N.W.  Duality & Inspiration.  I spent a few minutes with Jeremy Fokkens ( www.jeremyfokkens.com ) talking about his work and then asked him to stand by one of his photo's.  As the gallery was crowded I had little room to operate but I love this shot especially as the little girl's face in Jeremy's photo stares back at us.
Endeavor Arts 200, 1209 1st Street SW.  Jeff Cruz ( jcruzfoto.com ) has some amazing work and has two shows running during Exposure.  This show features a few of his landscape and cityscape and I managed to capture Jeff's portrait here.  His other show 100 Years - 100 Faces of the Calgary Stampede is at the Resolution Art Gallery - 233 10th Street NW.
February 7
Eighth Avenue Place - Intersection
Greg Gerla ( www.greggerla.com ) is one of the Board Directors of Exposure as well as someone I have known for about 25 years.  I got to know him well when I worked as an assistant to him for one summer and I follow him both on Facebook and Instagram.
Lori Andrews ( the10centdesigner.com ) has four wonderful self-portraits in the show and I was fortunate to be able to have a few minutes of her time to chat.  What a wonderfully creative lady and I look forward to following her work both on Facebook and Instagram.
February 6  Not exactly the best day for me as I spent the day with my youngest son as he was not very well.  After doing my best to nurse him to health we ended up at the Alberta Children's Hospital ER where they had to put him on IV because he was severely dehydrated from a stomach flu.  I can't say enough about how well the nurse's and doctor's took care of him and made sure there was nothing more serious involved.  I am happy to report that he has recovered nicely and was eating normally tonight (Feb. 8).
February 5  Made a quick stop at Heritage Park to take a few photo's with the iPhone.  The little slough at the entrance to the park made a wonderful winter scene that I captured using the Hipstamatic app and the tintype pak.
I also noticed this wonderful cloud formation catching the setting sun and trained the camera on it.